Science vs. The Scientist

Science vs. The Scientist

Science vs. The Scientist Laser Talk

The Scientific Method

The process by which science is worked out, “peer review,” is not perfect but it is reliable. What gives science integrity is that it has to hold up both to scrutiny from fellow experts before it is ever published [e.g. 1, 2], and to the real world once people begin to use it.

When my kids were little we often had to get antibiotics for ear infections and we never doubted that the antibiotics would work. Regularly, I go to the airport, and never do I have the thought: “I’ve heard most of these fly, I hope they put me on one of the ones that actually does.”

It is not possible that one part of science, “climate,” has been corrupted and functions outside of this scientific process seen in every aspect of our everyday lives.

An individual scientist, on the other hand, might say things that are inconsistent with the scientific consensus. Fred Singer, who is a physicist [3], clearly knows more about science than I ever will. However, in addition to testifying before Congress that CO2 emissions were not a primary cause of global warming, he has also testified that cigarette smoking does not cause cancer [4]. You could probably find a scientist who says that we should pray instead of giving children antibiotics; you just won’t find any scientific organizations that will agree.

Peer-Reviewed Climate Articles

To emphasize the point, Jim Powell, a science author who served 12 years on the National Science Board, appointed by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush [5], reviewed 13,950 peer-reviewed climate articles published between 1991 and 2012. Only 24 of those articles “clearly reject global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming.” Of the 33,690 authors of those papers, the 24 rejecting articles were written by 34 authors.

In other words, only about 1 of every 1000 climate scientists published over 21 years would reject that climate is changing, and/or that humans caused it [6].


Figures: Left: In the review of peer-reviewed climate articles published between 1991-2012 on the Web of Science by James Powell, only 24 reject global warming [6]. Right: the 24 papers were penned by only 34 total authors out of 33,700 for all articles reviewed [5].

Peer-reviewed publications that support Powell’s claim can be found, here and here.

Skeptic Claims and One-Liners

Carbon Fee Skeptic Claim: Climate scientists are in it for the money.
One-Liner: If a climate scientist could actually prove that climate change wasn’t happening or man-made, they’d be rich, and have their career made.

  1. Science Magazine. “Peer Review at Science Publications”. Science Magazine Publications, 2013.
  2. Nature Publications. “Peer Review Policy.”, 2013.
  3. “Fred Singer” Wikipedia.
  4. Singer, S.F. and M.K. Jeffreys. The EPA and the Science of Environmental Tobacco Smoke.” Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco. Bates Number: TICT0002555.
  5. James L. Powell. “James Lawrence Powell”. Copyright: 2011. Last accessed: 7-21-14. Pie chart.