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Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change

Published on Apr 1, 2015in Science Education 3.04
· DOI :10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9
David R. Legates21
Estimated H-index: 21
(University of Delaware),
Willie Soon27
Estimated H-index: 27
(Harvard University),
William M. Briggs3
Estimated H-index: 3
Abstract
Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.
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  • Citations (8)
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References65
Newest
Published on Aug 1, 2013in Science Education 3.04
Daniel Bedford6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Weber State University),
John Cook14
Estimated H-index: 14
(University of Queensland)
Agnotology is a term that has been used to describe the study of ignorance and its cultural production (Proctor in Agnotology: the making and unmaking of ignorance. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2008). For issues that are contentious in the societal realm, though largely not in the scientific realm, such as human evolution or the broad basics of human-induced climate change, it has been suggested that explicit study of relevant misinformation might be a useful teaching approach (Bedford i...
9 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 1, 2013in Nature 41.58
Chris Huntingford54
Estimated H-index: 54
,
Philip D Jones123
Estimated H-index: 123
+ 2 AuthorsPeter M. Cox70
Estimated H-index: 70
Although fluctuations in annual temperature have shown substantial geographical variation over the past few decades, which may be more difficult for society to adapt to than altered mean conditions, the time-evolving standard deviation of globally averaged temperature anomalies reveals that there has been little change.
117 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 1, 2013in Science Education 3.04
David R. Legates21
Estimated H-index: 21
(University of Delaware),
Willie Soon27
Estimated H-index: 27
(Harvard University),
William M. Briggs3
Estimated H-index: 3
Agnotology has been defined in a variety of ways including “the study of ignorance and its cultural production” and “the study of how and why ignorance or misunderstanding exists.” More recently, however, it has been posited that agnotology should be used in the teaching of climate change science. But rather than use agnotology to enhance an understanding of the complicated nature of the complex Earth’s climate, the particular aim is to dispel alternative viewpoints to the so-called consensus sc...
5 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 14, 2013in BMJ 23.56
Jeanne Lenzer6
Estimated H-index: 6
Despite repeated calls to prohibit or limit conflicts of interests among authors and sponsors of clinical guidelines, the problem persists. Jeanne Lenzer investigates
101 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 1, 2013in Academic Questions
Robert Weissberg7
Estimated H-index: 7
(University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 1, 2013in Environmental Research Letters 4.54
John Cook14
Estimated H-index: 14
(University of Queensland),
Dana Nuccitelli6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Tetra Tech)
+ 5 AuthorsAndrew G. Skuce6
Estimated H-index: 6
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991‐2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that hu...
445 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 1, 2013in Academic Questions
Paul Hollander2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Massachusetts Amherst)
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 1, 2013in Nature Climate Change 19.18
Stephan Lewandowsky49
Estimated H-index: 49
,
Gilles E. Gignac25
Estimated H-index: 25
,
Samuel Vaughan1
Estimated H-index: 1
Public concern about anthropogenic global warming has been declining despite the scientific consensus on the issue. It is still unknown whether experts’ consensus determines people’s beliefs, and it is not clear if public perception of consensus overrides worldviews known to foster rejection of anthropogenic climate change. New research shows that information about scientific consensus increases acceptance of anthropogenic global warming and neutralizes the effect of worldviews.
139 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 1, 2013in Journal of Climate 4.66
Yi Huang13
Estimated H-index: 13
AbstractA simulation experiment is conducted to inquire into the mean climate state and likely trends in atmospheric infrared radiation spectra. Upwelling and downwelling spectra at five vertical levels from the surface to the top of the atmosphere (TOA) are rigorously calculated from a climate-model-simulated atmosphere for a 25-yr period. Tracing the longwave radiation flux vertically and spectrally renders a dissection of the greenhouse effect of the earth atmosphere and its change due to cli...
11 Citations Source Cite
Published on Nov 1, 2012in Organization Studies 3.13
Lianne Lefsrud6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Alberta),
Renate E. Meyer16
Estimated H-index: 16
This paper examines the framings and identity work associated with professionals’ discursive construction of climate change science, their legitimation of themselves as experts on ‘the truth’, and their attitudes towards regulatory measures. Drawing from survey responses of 1077 professional engineers and geoscientists, we reconstruct their framings of the issue and knowledge claims to position themselves within their organizational and their professional institutions. In understanding the strug...
92 Citations Source Cite
Cited By8
Newest
Published on May 4, 2019in Journal of Risk Research 1.38
Adam J. L. Harris15
Estimated H-index: 15
(University College London),
Oliver Sildmäe1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University College London)
+ 1 AuthorsUlrike Hahn28
Estimated H-index: 28
(Birkbeck, University of London)
AbstractUnderstanding the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change has been dubbed a ‘gateway belief’ to engaging people in sustainable behaviour. We consider the question of how the impact of a consensus communication can be maximised. Firstly, the credibility of the communicator should be maximised. One way of achieving this is to present the opinions of a sample of scientists directly to individuals. The decision-making literature suggests that such a technique will confer an addi...
3 Citations Source Cite
Nikolai Dronin4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Moscow State University),
Alina Bychkova (National Research University – Higher School of Economics)
Modern science is global. This is particularly true of environmental science, which has been guided to a considerable extent by international environmental policy. Accordingly, one might expect the standards of scientific research around the globe to have unified over the last 30 years. Yet environmental scientists from different nations and scientific schools have demonstrably dissimilar views on key environmental issues. This is the conclusion we reached after a series of in-depth interviews w...
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Published on Mar 1, 2018in Science Education 3.04
Asli Sezen-Barrie1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Maine)
Drawn from the cultural-historical theories of knowing and doing science, this article uses the concept of professional vision to explore what scientists and experienced teachers see and articulate as important aspects of climate science practices. The study takes an abductive reasoning approach to analyze scientists’ videotaped lectures to recognize what scientists pay attention to in their explanations of climate science practices. It then analyzes how ideas scientists attended align with expe...
1 Citations Source Cite
Andrew G. Skuce6
Estimated H-index: 6
,
John Cook14
Estimated H-index: 14
+ 5 AuthorsDana Nuccitelli6
Estimated H-index: 6
Cook et al. reported a 97% scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), based on a study of 11,944 abstracts in peer-reviewed science journals. Powell claims that the Cook et al. methodology was flawed and that the true consensus is virtually unanimous at 99.99%. Powell’s method underestimates the level of disagreement because it relies on finding explicit rejection statements as well as the assumption that abstracts without a stated position endorse the consensus. Cook et al.’s s...
4 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 23, 2016in Earth System Dynamics Discussions 3.77
Roger Jones37
Estimated H-index: 37
(Victoria University, Australia),
Jh Ricketts1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Victoria University, Australia)
Abstract. Interactions between externally forced and internally generated climate variations on decadal timescales is a major determinant of changing climate risk. Severe testing is applied to observed global and regional surface and satellite temperatures and modelled surface temperatures to determine whether these interactions are independent, as in the traditional signal-to-noise model, or whether they interact, resulting in step-like warming. The multistep bivariate test is used to detect st...
2 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 1, 2016in Environmental Research Letters 4.54
Richard S.J. Tol85
Estimated H-index: 85
Cook et al's highly influential consensus study (2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024) finds different results than previous studies in the consensus literature. It omits tests for systematic differences between raters. Many abstracts are unaccounted for. The paper does not discuss the procedures used to ensure independence between the raters, to ensure that raters did not use additional information, and to ensure that later ratings were not influenced by earlier results. Clarifying these issues wo...
6 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2015in Chinese Science Bulletin
Christopher Monckton1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Public Policy Institute of California),
Willie Soon27
Estimated H-index: 27
(Harvard University)
+ 1 AuthorsWilliam M. Briggs3
Estimated H-index: 3
An irreducibly simple climate-sensitivity model is designed to empower even non-specialists to research the question how much global warming we may cause. In 1990, the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expressed “substantial confidence” that near-term global warming would occur twice as fast as subsequent observation. Given rising CO2 concentration, few models predicted no warming since 2001. Between the pre-final and published drafts of the Fifth As...
14 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2014
I am a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware and I served as the Delaware State Climatologist from 2005 to 2011. I also am an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics & Statistics and the Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Program. I received a B.A. in Mathematics and Geography, a M.S. in Geography, and a Ph.D. in Climatology, all from the University of Delaware. I served on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma and Louisiana State University be...