Science & Education

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 299–318 | Cite as

Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change

  • David R. LegatesEmail author
  • Willie Soon
  • William M. Briggs
  • Christopher Monckton of Brenchley


Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.


Global Warming Climate Policy Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Climate Science Anthropogenic Climate Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Demetris Koutsoyiannis for his comments and thoughts on Agnotology.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Legates
    • 1
    Email author
  • Willie Soon
    • 2
  • William M. Briggs
    • 3
  • Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstrophysicsCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.New YorkUSA
  4. 4.EdinburghScotland, UK

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