Monday, August 3, 2009

So Much For the Inhofe List

One of the climate change skeptics' mantras is, "A growing number of distinguished scientists dispute the whole idea of human-induced climate change." Most of the time, skeptics simply state this as fact, without evidence; but when "evidence" is offered, in most cases it will be either the thoroughly debunked "Oregon Petition" or, more recently, oil state Senator James Inhofe's Senate Minority Report, which supposedly lists 700-odd "dissenting scientists."

Those of us who believe that the overwhelming majority of scientists are right about global warming have long harbored deep suspicions regarding the actual qualifications of the scientists on Inhofe's list. These suspicions are now confirmed, in spades.

The Center for Inquiry, which published the wonderful Skeptical Inquirer magazine, has stepped in and done the dirty work. CFI has released The Credibility Project, an in-depth review of all of the list's signers (687 at the time of the report). The key finding, from CFI's press release:

After assessing 687 individuals named as “dissenting scientists” in the January 2009 version of the United States Senate Minority Report, the Center for Inquiry’s Credibility Project found that:
  • Slightly fewer than 10 percent could be identified as climate scientists.
  • Approximately 15 percent published in the recognizable refereed literature on subjects related to climate science.
  • Approximately 80 percent clearly had no refereed publication record on climate science at all.
  • Approximately 4 percent appeared to favor the current IPCC-2007 consensus and should not have been on the list.
Further examination of the backgrounds of these individuals revealed that a significant number were identified as meteorologists, and some of these people were employed to report the weather.
(Meteorologists, it should be noted, are not climate scientists—as smart and as competent as they might be, they study entirely different things and typically have little relevant expertise.)

Lest anyone think that CFI is pulling these statistics out of thin air, it has provided a detailed spreadsheet that lists each individual signer along with his or her qualifications.

This is yeoman work. Well done, CFI.

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