Real Sceptic

Ventures into scepticism

Richard Tol’s 97% Scientific Consensus Gremlins

97% piechartLast year Cook et al. released a paper that analysed the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

What they did in that study was look at almost 12,000 abstracts from 1991 to 2011 that matched the search “global climate change” or “global warming.” What they found after analysing these abstracts is that among those that expressed a position on global warming, 97% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. They also contacted 8,547 authors to ask if they could rate their own papers and received 1,200 responses. The results for this again found that 97% of the selected papers stated that humans are causing global warming. Read more

Watts Up With Nitrogen Science Denial

21st May 2014 4 responses

Anthony WattsThose that are familiar with the website Watts Up With That know that some very strange content has shown up on it. A lot of it focusses on trying to discredit valid research on climate change and global warming, but in general it is also very dismissive about environmental concerns. Basically anything that can be used to cast doubt will get published, no matter how wrong or far-fetched it is.

This time Watts went after nitrogen pollution, something that is a real concern and can have serious consequences. Fertilizers contain nitrogen as it is a nutrient plants need to grow properly. But this isn’t the same nitrogen as we breathe, plants can’t absorb nitrogen gas. That’s why the nitrogen in fertilizers often is part of a compound, most commonly as NH3 or NO3. This what distinguishes nitrogen in fertilizers from the nitrogen in the air (which has the chemical formula of N2). Read more

Richard Tol Versus Richard Tol On The 97% Scientific Consensus

97% piechartLast year Cook et al. released a paper in which they analysed the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming based via the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

What they did in that study was examine 11,944 abstracts from 1991 to 2011 that included the words “global climate change” or “global warming” in their abstract. What they found after analysing these abstracts is that among those that expressed a position on global warming, 97% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. They also contacted 8,547 authors to ask if they could rate their own papers and received 1,200 responses. The results for this again found that 97% of the selected papers stated that humans are causing global warming. Read more

Another Reason To Not Use Alexa Statistics: They’re Too Easy To Manipulate

14th May 2014 3 responses

alexa logoI’ve already written several blog posts about Alexa and how notoriously bad its statistics are. Not really surprising that they are bad if you know how the data for those statistics is gathered. For the bulk of their data Alexa relies on people installing the Alexa Toolbar (or a toolbar that passes information to Alexa). It’s this toolbar that monitors to which websites you go and how you end up on them.

This has as a result that demographic, used browsers, and even the country visitors are from influence the data that Alexa gathers about a website. This can introduce serious artefacts and biases into the collected data and basically makes the statistics generated from it worthless. At best it can give you an idea about how well a website is doing, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re seeing matches reality. I’ve already written a far more detailed blog post about how Alexa works and why you never should rely on the data it provides; it’s just too unreliable. Read more

Freedom Of Speech, Censorship, And Moderation

12th May 2014 3 responses
How internet fighting works by SMBC

How internet fighting works by SMBC

Anyone who frequents my website regularly, and has either participated in the comment sections or read them, knows I have a very strict moderation policy. I have some very clearly stated rules for conduct, violate those and I will intervene. To me it doesn’t matter if you’re a friend, colleague, opponent, a regular, or just someone passing by. The rules I have for participating on this website get applied equally. There are even clearly stated appeal rules just in case I made a mistake with my moderation.

I already mentioned before that most commenters like the environment that I create with my strict moderation policy. It’s because of those rules that you can freely discuss the merits of what I wrote without the vitriol and derailing of discussions that’s so common. I’ve seen commenters defend my rules as they see what I do and how different my comment sections are because of that. Read more