Monday, March 21, 2005

Consensus and Media Objectivity

The Naomi Oreskes article in Science is amazing:

The American Meteorological Society (6), the American Geophysical Union (7),
and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) all have
issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human
modification of climate is compelling (8). The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals
between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords
"climate change" (9). The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the
papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

The response has been undeafening. My short tour through responses has found not a single disagreement with her central claim; or, rather, disagreement, but not a counter-example of peer reviewed climate science skepticism. Yikes.

And Chris Mooney has a nice piece about how media objectivity is distorting the debate on science policy.



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