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Alan Carlin Destroys John Cook’s Credibility (If He Ever Had Any!)

July 2, 2013

By Paul Homewood


h/t Paul Matthews


Alan Carlin
Ph.D. Economics, MIT
Senior Operations Research Analyst, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Retired)

I ran a post yesterday about how John Cook’s infamous  “97%” paper had incorrectly classified a paper by Alan Carlin as “endorsing the consensus on AGW” . But it seems I was already beaten to it by Popular Technology, who flagged this up, along with many other similar misclassifications. They also asked for comments from the scientists concerned, and Alan Carlin did not pull his punches:-


Dr. Carlin, your paper ‘A Multidisciplinary, Science-Based Approach to the Economics of Climate Change‘ is categorized by Cook et al. (2013) as; "Explicitly endorses AGW but does not quantify or minimize".
Is this an accurate representation of your paper?

Carlin: "No, if Cook et al’s paper classifies my paper, ‘A Multidisciplinary, Science-Based Approach to the Economics of Climate Change’ as "explicitly endorses AGW but does not quantify or minimize," nothing could be further from either my intent or the contents of my paper. I did not explicitly or even implicitly endorse AGW and did quantify my skepticism concerning AGW. Both the paper and the abstract make this clear. The abstract includes the following statement:
"The economic benefits of reducing CO2 emissions may be about two orders of magnitude less than those estimated by most economists because the climate sensitivity factor (CSF) is much lower than assumed by the United Nations because feedback is negative rather than positive and the effects of CO2 emissions reductions on atmospheric CO2 appear to be short rather than long lasting."
In brief, I argue that human activity may increase temperatures over what they would otherwise have been without human activity, but the effect is so minor that it is not worth serious consideration.
I would classify my paper in Cook et al’s category (7): Explicit rejection with quantification. My paper shows that two critical components of the AGW hypothesis are not supported by the available observational evidence and that a related hypothesis is highly doubtful. I hence conclude that the AGW hypothesis as a whole is not supported and state that hypotheses not supported by evidence should be rejected.
With regard to quantification, I state that the economic benefits of reducing CO2 are about two orders of magnitude less than assumed by pro-AGW economists using the IPCC AR4 report because of problems with the IPCC science. Surely 1/100th of the IPCC AGW estimate is less than half of the very minor global warming that has occurred since humans became a significant source of CO2."

Any further comment on the Cook et al. (2013) paper?

Carlin: "If Cook et al’s paper is so far off in its classification of my paper, the next question is whether their treatment of my paper is an outlier in the quality of their analysis or is representative. Since I understand that five other skeptic paper authors whose papers were classified by Cook et al. (Idso, Morner, Scaffeta, Soon, and Shaviv) have similar concerns to date, the classification problems in Cook’s paper may be more general. Further, in all six cases the effect of the misclassifications is to exaggerate Cook et al’s conclusions rather than being apparently random errors due to sloppy analysis. Since their conclusions are at best no better than their data, it appears likely that Cook et al’s conclusions are exaggerated as well as being unsupported by the evidence that they offer. I have not done an analysis of each of the papers Cook et al. classified, but I believe that there is sufficient evidence concerning misclassification that Cook et al’s paper should be withdrawn by the authors and the data reanalyzed, preferably by less-biased reviewers.
One possible explanation for this apparent pattern of misclassification into "more favorable" classifications in terms of supporting the AGW hypothesis is that Cook et al. may have reverse engineered their paper. That is, perhaps the authors started by deciding the "answer" they wanted (97 percent) based on previous alarmist studies on the subject. They certainly had strong motivation to come up with this "answer" given the huge propaganda investment by alarmists in this particular number. So in the end they may have concluded that they needed to reclassify enough skeptic papers into "more favorable" classifications in order to reach this possibly predetermined "answer" and hoped that these misclassifications would go unnoticed by the world’s press and governmental officials trumpeting their scientifically irrelevant conclusions. Obviously, whether this was actually done is known only to the authors, but I offer it as a hypothesis that might explain the apparently widespread and one-directional misclassifications of skeptic papers. Mere sloppy analysis should have resulted in a random pattern of misclassifications."





  1. July 2, 2013 8:03 pm

    Out of 12,000+ papers looked at weren’t there only 41 or so the actually endorsed or explicitly supported the alarmist CAGW view?

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    July 2, 2013 10:04 pm

    We have here another instance of how easily Cook’s report has been discredited. Did he know this could and would happen? Or did he truly think the review and classification of these papers was right on target? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • July 2, 2013 11:00 pm

      I think he knew it was a PR stunt all along. His only objective was to get the “97%” message into the media.

  3. July 3, 2013 9:35 am

    It is interesting that the “reverse engineering” suggestion has been raised by Carlin.
    It’s about the ideal figure they would have wanted. Not too low to allow too high a figure on the other side, and not too high to be unbelievable, like some of the election results which used to appear in the old Communist countries.
    97% has just the level of credibility to convince the public and the gullible media that it is true.
    It is also probably important that it ends in the “magical” odd number 7.
    96% wouldn’t have the same impact and 95% definitely sounds made up.
    On the other hand, while 87% sounds credible, would definitely be too low.
    However, how do you give the genuine figure sufficient publicity that them media and politicians start using it?

  4. July 3, 2013 3:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Thwack! Take that John Cook.

  5. July 3, 2013 3:32 pm

    I think I am beginning to Love Cook et al, for being (hopefully) the final nail in the consensus coffin!

    There is NO scientific consensus about the cause, rate, speed and extent of current climate change. There are many differences of opinion regarding how much warming there will be, how fast it will warm, if it will continue to warm at all, whether climatic feedbacks are primarily positive, negative or neutral. Anyone who studies a wide range of the literature will see this is the case.

    The only apparent consensus is over whether CO2 is increasing and if the earth has warmed over the last 150 years. Beyond that, scientific consensus increasingly breaks down the further you get into the scientific detail.

    It is now becoming much more apparent, and more and more papers show that there is less and less cause for alarm, and the only empirical evidence available shows a very low sensitivity to CO2 increases. The only evidence of a human fingerprint within potential catastrophic, or runaway global warming, or tipping points, is within computer climate models, NOT in empirical observation of measurements in the actual real world.

    As the divergence between what the models forecast, and the real world evidence shows, increases, it will become more certain that the Models are based on flawed theories and the models have been wrong and misleading policy makers for many years.

  6. July 3, 2013 4:12 pm

    The W.M.O. has issued a report saying that the world has warmed faster since the turn of the century than ever recorded.
    This seems to be based on the increase in the decadal average temperature, rather than linear trend.
    Also, they claim that deaths from heatwaves was up from 6,000 to 136,000. I wonder how many fewer people died from cold?

  7. RichardLH permalink
    July 3, 2013 4:25 pm

    Well as I excpect it to get colder, Global UAH wise, over the next 18 months… this should get interesting 😉

  8. RichardLH permalink
    July 3, 2013 4:29 pm

    I mean, would you want to go into a presentation of about how hot it is all going to get with these two slides on the wall behind you?

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