Monthly Archives: October 2019

Is the political left more science-minded than the political right?

In the article “Why some people still think climate change isn’t real“, the author stated that political ideology is the strongest predictor for denial and conservative voters are more likely to discount climate change. The focus is on conservatives that are said to be ideologically biased and therefor can’t accept the facts of climate science.

I heard many times before that the political right tend to deny the science. In the article itself, there was a link to another “Climate explained” article titled “Why are climate change skeptics often right-wing conservatives“. This was also explained in several papers authored by John Cook and it was therefor no surprise that this claim also appeared in the consensus handbook (in the chapter “The role of politics and information”):

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Impartially weighing up all the evidence or post hoc rationalisations?

climate explained header

The Conversation has a “Climate explained” series with articles centered around a (climate change related) question that get answered by an “expert”. The question of the article that is the subject of this post is “Why some people still think climate change isn’t real” and the expert who answers this question is David Hall, a Senior Researcher in, ahem, Politics.

He tries to explain in the article what drives the “deniers” and how to “undo” their denial.

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A non-sequitur or not a non-sequitur?

The subject of the second episode of the evidencesquared podcast mentioned in the previous post is among other “Scott Pruitt’s denial of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, both in a CNBC interview and in his hearing for head of the EPA”. At 03:57 in the podcast, the presenters start a audio excerpt of an interview of Scott Pruitt at CNBC back in 2017 when he was the head of the EPA (the interview at CNBC can be viewed here):

Scott Pruitt C?BC March 3, 2017 interview

[Interviewer CNBC]
Do you believe that it has been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?

[Scott Pruitt]
No, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do. There is a tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

[Interviewer CNBC]

[Scott Pruitt]
We don’t know that yet. As far as, we need to continue the review and the analysis.

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Consensus on not just “some” warming, but “most” of the warming?

The most surprising find in the evidencesquared episode 2 podcast (see previous post) is a statement by John Cook about the endorsement levels of the Cook 2013 paper. This is how he reacts to his observation that some skeptics claim that they belong to the 97% because they believe that the world is warming and humans have some influence (my emphasis):

[John Cook]
Yeah, and the way that the consensus position is often expressed by people who don’t accept the consensus: “Well, I am part of the 97%, because I think that humans are causing some of global warming, but I don’t think it is most and therefor that makes me part of the 97%”.

[Peter Jacobs]
Right, we saw that with criticism from publishing of the Wall Street Journal, for example.

[John Cook]
Yeah, we come to that in a moment, but the problem with that argument is, in our 2013 study, we explicitly ruled that out as an option. Whenever there was an expression that humans are causing less than half of global warming, we categorized that as rejection of the consensus. So the person who thought that humans are causing some, just not more than half, that is a rejection of the consensus.


I remembered from reading the Cook 2013 paper that there were only two levels of endorsement that quantified the consensus and the papers in those two levels just amounted to less than 1% of all papers in their dataset. How on Earth could he now claim that they considered it rejecting the consensus when a paper expressed that “humans are causing less than half of global warming” when almost all data had no clear quantification?

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