Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change
- 3.3k Downloads
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.
KeywordsGlobal Warming Climate Policy Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Climate Science Anthropogenic Climate Change
The authors wish to thank Demetris Koutsoyiannis for his comments and thoughts on Agnotology.
- Amstrup, S. C., Marcot, B. G., & Douglas, D. C. (2007). Forecasting the range wide status of polar bears at selected times in the 21st century. Anchorage, Alaska: USGS Alaska Science Center.Google Scholar
- David, L., & Gordon, C. (2007). The down-to-earth guide to global warming. London, UK: Orchard Books.Google Scholar
- Essex, C. (1986). Trace gases and the problem of false invariants in climate models—a comment. Climatological Bulletin, 20, 19–25.Google Scholar
- Huang, Y., Ramaswamy, V., Huang, X., Fu, Q., & Bardeen, C. (2007). A strict test in climate modeling with spectrally resolved radiances: GCM simulation versus AIRS observations. Geophysical Research Letters, 34. doi: 10.1029/2007GL031409.
- Hunter, C. M., Caswell, H., Runge, M. C., Amstrup, S. C., Regehr, E. V., & Stirling, I. (2007). Polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea II: Demography and population growth in relation to sea ice conditions. Anchorage, Alaska: USGS Alaska Science Center.Google Scholar
- Huntingford, C., Jones, P. D., Livina, V. N., Lenton, T. M., & Cox, P. M. (2013). No increase in global temperature variability despite changing regional patterns. Nature, forthcoming. doi: 10.1038/nature12310.
- Huxley, T. H. (1866). On the advisableness of improving natural knowledge. Fortnightly Review. Google Scholar
- Knight, J. R., et al. (2009). Do global temperature trends over the last decade falsify climate predictions? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 90, S22–S23.Google Scholar
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (2013). Monthly mean CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa, HI. ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt.
- Oreskes, N. (2004). The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, 306, 1686 (and Erratum, 21 January 2005).Google Scholar
- Popper, K. R. (1934). Logik der Forchung, Vienna. Reprinted in 1959 as The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London: Hutchinson & Co., p. 480.Google Scholar
- Proctor, R. N. (2008). Agnotology: A missing term to describe the cultural production of ignorance (and its study). In R. N. Proctor & L. Schiebinger (Eds.), Agnotology: The making and unmaking of ignorance (pp. 1–33). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar