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John Cook wins award as Friend of Planet for feeding fallacies to school children

Posted By Jo Nova On May 13, 2016 @ 5:12 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

The Sydney Morning Herald lauds the Queensland Academic who won an award and busted four myths. The fake expert tosses out non-sequitur red herrings and strawmen, ignores some of the largest forces of nature in the solar system, trashes the scientific method. Give him a Nobel eh? John Cook still doesn’t appear to know about the most relevant surveys in his chosen field.

This week, the American National Center for Science Education gave Mr Cook its annual Friend of the Planet award, for outstanding work to advance the centre’s goals.

Evidently the centre’s goals include teaching kids that science is a form of opinion polling. Nah — who am I kidding, the primary goal is training kids to pay their science tax, to salute officials in lab coats, and prostrate themselves before Big-Gov, which after all, controls the weather.  Whatever else happens at schools, children must never ever question Big-Government Science. (That might lead them to question big-government grants!).

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Lets unpack the mythical myth-busting

John Cook starts with a myth that isn’t a myth, and which isn’t science either:

MYTH BUSTED: There’s no scientific consensus on climate change

Despite getting a full time salary at UQ, Cook-the-consensus expert hasn’t done his reading and doesn’t know that almost half  of meteorologists are skeptics,  two-thirds of geoscientists and engineers are skeptics, and most readers of skeptical blogs (see the comments) have hard science degrees. The number of hard science degrees in the world would outnumber the number of “climate scientists” 100 to 1, or maybe a thousand to one. Ergo, the scientific world at large is skeptical of the small group in the new immature, unproven branchlet called “climate science” which so far hasn’t produced a moon shot, built any planes, or eradicated small pox. Climate science collectively fails to predict droughts, El Ninos, and barbeque summers, and fails to do it all over the world.

Cook qualifies the grandiose false statement in his next sentence. But he never corrects the headline message, indeed his whole career is built on the misunderstanding that four score climate scientists are “The Scientific Community” and represent a scientific consensus.

“The reality is that there’s 97 per cent agreement among climate scientists that human are causing global warming.

Does accuracy matter? Only as long as John can keep repeating misinformation most of the time.

But he hints that he is aware that scientists exist. So what does he call the thousands of science trained people who find minerals, build bridges and cure diseases — they’re “fake experts”:

The technique that is often used to cast doubt on this figure is to use fake experts, use people who have the impression of scientific expertise but don’t actually publish peer-reviewed research.

Methinks the best definition of a false expert is a psychologist telling us that he knows how much the world will warm because he’s done an opinion poll but never published a climate science paper.

The real fake expert is a man calling himself a science communicator when he doesn’t know what science is. Scientists don’t vote on the laws of physics. It’s about observations, Mr Cook. UPDATED: And speaking of observations, that 97% study he did, which he tried to hide the data for,  only shows a 0.3% consensus if we assess the abstracts by the definitions Cook set. Richard Tol took it and ERL apart.

“the Cook et al paper used an unrepresentative sample, can’t be replicated, and leaves out many useful papers. The study was done by biased observers who disagreed with each other a third of the time, and disagree with the authors of those papers nearly two-thirds of the time. About 75% of the papers in the study were irrelevant in the first place, with nothing to say about the subject matter. Technically, we could call them  “padding”. Cook himself has admitted data quality is low. “

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MYTH BUSTED: Climate has changed in the past. What’s happening now must be natural as well

Cook uses a strawman fallacy to pretend there is a non-sequitur. The fake expert uses a fake fallacy…

This argument uses a logical fallacy known as a non sequitur, or jumping to conclusions.

“Just imagine if you walked into a room and you found a dead body with a knife sticking out of it’s back and you argued ‘well, humans have been dying of natural natural causes for thousands of years, so therefore, this person must have died of natural causes as well.’

Except that the leading skeptics don’t say that. They point to the millions of years when it’s been hotter, wetter, colder and higher in CO2 to show that the correlation is pathetic and only a Dunderhead C-grade Scientitwit would pretend that CO2 drove the climate when there are millions of counter examples to show the theory was wrong.

The main limpid thrust of Climate Scientists Inc is to declare that nothing else could have caused the latest warming. Yet their climate models can’t explain any of the other past warm blips that are a lot like this one.

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MYTH BUSTED: The sun is causing global warming

“But the fact here is that over the last 30 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions.

The Sun couldn’t possibly change temperatures on Earth through changes in the solar wind, the spectrum or the magnetic field. And yet, with an 11 year delay there is this odd correlation for the last 200 years. Meh. Must be nothing.

Solar model, Climate change, 2016. TSI, Sunspots, global temperatures

Changes in Sunlight correlate with changes in Earths temperature 11 years later.

One day when climate scientists realize that the sun is more than just a ball of light, they will add other solar factors to their models, and years after that they might have models that can predict something.

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MYTH BUSTED: Global warming stopped about two decades ago

“The fact here is that over the last few decades our planet has been building up heat at a rate of four atomic bombs per second.

“They’ll just cherry-pick small periods of a temperature record and say ‘hey look, over a very small period, temperature isn’t going up very much’ but it’s ignoring the bigger picture and it’s ignoring looking at our climate system as a whole, all the heat building up in our system.”

Cook”debunks” the myth with a lame red-herring, and converts pathetically small degrees Celsius into an irrelevant big scary number of joules. Suddenly global warming is global jouling — should we pay billions to stop these extra joules? Given that the sun is dumping 500 times as many atomic bombs on us every second — maybe not. A real scientist might wonder if we can even measure this tiny sliver of “extra joules”. We have one thermometer per 250,000 cubic kilometers of ocean and we’re looking for changes of a hundreth of a degree. Dear John, the error bars laugh at your 4 atomic bombs and The Sun just blows them away.)

Hiroshima bombs, Atomic bombs, Climate change, 2016. Skepticalscience.com.

To sum up myth 4, Cook resorts to a non-sequiteur, cherrypicked factoid that is a red herring, inconsequential, and probably doesn’t exist.

Those who can’t explain the pause, can’t explain the cause*.

Poor Jorge Branco, writer at the Sydney Morning Herald wasn’t trained to ask hard questions, didn’t do any research and produced exactly the kind of journalism we’ve come to expect from Fairfax — gullible soaking agitprop. Yawn.

*h/t The Hockeyschtick moniker – a great line.

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